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Microsoft getting into VR – but not directly

Microsoft is getting into full-blown VR after all, but it will let other companies provide the hardware.

When Microsoft unveiled the HoloLens in January of 2015, it appeared to set a path away from the VR crowd and towards a relatively unique branch of AR (augmented reality) experience.

That doesn’t mean that it won’t dabble in full-blown VR, however. At the Computex show in Taipei, the company has revealed that it was opening up the Windows Holographic platform to third-party manufacturers.

Those hardware companies will be empowered to create their own headsets, both in the AR and VR fields. Microsoft even has a name for this mish-mash of approaches: “mixed reality.”

While the HoloLens has wowed those who have witnessed its capabilities in early demos, Microsoft hasn’t yet pushed the device to consumers. Nor has it indicated when that might happen.

It’s quite possible, then, that the first consumer-ready HoloLens device won’t come from Microsoft at all. Indeed, Microsoft executive Terry Myerson likens the HoloLens to the company’s own Surface family. They’re great devices in their own right, but they exist more as an ideal reference point for other manufacturers to emulate.

As with Windows 10 on those Surface devices, it’s the HoloLens’s underlying platform that Microsoft is really pushing here, not so much the hardware itself.

Microsoft illustrated how this ‘mixed reality’ space might work with a demo video. It showed a designer using a HoloLens collaborating remotely with two colleagues – one with their own HoloLens, and one with an HTC Vive VR headset. Each had a Cortana-like AI helper.

Related: What is HoloLens?

Engadget has established that Microsoft is working directly with HTC  on a Windows Holographic product, and it’s also known to be working with the likes of Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, Acer, ASUS, Dell, Falcon Northwest, HP, Lenovo, and MSI.

There’s every chance, then, that the HoloLens we’ve seen won’t be the HoloLens most people end up buying.

Next, take a look at some of the best HTC Vive games:

Are you eagerly awaiting the HoloLens? Let us know in the comments

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